Nissan has announced that the new LEAF PLUS, the extended-range version of its popular LEAF, will be available in the US this March and it will cost $36,500. That’s $6,500 more than the standard LEAF and about $1,000 more than the Tesla Model 3’s new price.

That’s not to say the LEAF PLUS is a bad deal. Tesla has announced that getting the Model 3’s price down to the promised $35k has been hard work and they’ve decided to close most of their retail locations to get there. With that in mind, the LEAF PLUS’ price premium doesn’t sound like that much more. It’s still much cheaper than Tesla’s other vehicles and it’s in line with the Chevy Bolt, an EV with range similar to the LEAF PLUS.

For that extra cash, Nissan gives you a 62 kWh battery – 55% larger than the standard LEAF – giving you longer range and more power. Here’s a quick comparison:

  CostBattery SizeHorsepower Range
Nissan Leaf$30,945 40 kWh 147 hp 150 miles
Nissan LEAF S PLUS$37,445 62 kWh 251 hp 226 miles

Nissan is offering the LEAF PLUS in the same three trim levels as the standard LEAF, albeit at higher costs (these prices don’t include the $895 delivery fee):

  • LEAF S PLUS: $36,550
  • LEAF SV PLUS: $38,510
  • LEAF SL PLUS: $42,550

With the larger battery, the PLUS can accelerate faster than the standard model thanks to the motor’s 250 pound-feet of torque, compared to the standard LEAF’s 236 lb-ft. You can see above that the PLUS also enjoys almost a 50% boost in horsepower.

Of course, the big sell is the range, which is 50% higher than the standard model. This’ll take you 226 miles before you can a recharge. The auto maker also notes that, thanks to a more powerful charging system, the PLUS will take about as long to recharge as the standard model, even with its much larger battery system.

The LEAF PLUS includes an 8 year/100,000 mile battery warranty, the standard EV warranty in the US across all manufacturers.

Will Nissan still make the standard LEAF?

Nissan will continue to make the standard LEAF, which features a 40 kWh battery and a 150 mile range.

At a total price of $30,945 with the destination fee, the base LEAF compares favorably to other short-range EVs like the VW e-Golf, which commands a similar price but offers less range.

Whether to buy the LEAF or the LEAF PLUS really depends on your own needs. An extra $6,500 certainly isn’t pennies, but you’re able to drive quite a bit longer before needing a refill.

If you’re looking for a work-week commuter car, the standard model would likely meet your needs, as long as you don’t have an insanely-long commute. If you’re planning trips bigger than just a day running around town doing errands, the extra cost of the PLUS probably makes sense.

How does the Nissan LEAF PLUS compare to the Tesla Model 3 and other EVs?

Although Tesla continually steals news headlines, you might be surprised to learn that the Nissan LEAF is the world’s most popular EV, based purely on units sold. Since it was introduced about a decade ago, Nissan has sold over 363,000 LEAFs, compared to just 243,000 Tesla Model Ss.

However, as EV makers continue to push EVs to higher and higher range, Nissan needed a major update just to stay relevant. And Nissan isn’t the only one thinking this way. Audi is starting delivery of its e-tron in Q1 2019, which experts expect to have a range of 200 to 250 miles. Mercedes is also introducing a long-range EV, the 2019 EQC.

When looking purely at range, no manufacturer dominates like Tesla. The Model S P100D keeps you moving for a bum-numbing 337 miles, but costs a pretty $135,000.

As we mentioned above, Tesla just announced in February that their base 2019 Model 3 now costs just $36,200 ($35k before the mandatory destination charge) which sports a range of 220 miles.

With the LEAF PLUS’ cost of $37,445, it’s about $1,000 more than the Model 3, with only a slightly higher range.

Compared to the Chevy Bolt, which boasts the highest EV range outside Tesla, the LEAF PLUS looks pretty good. The Bolt’s range is an estimated 238 miles, at a starting price of $37,495 with the destination fee. That puts the LEAF PLUS right in line with the Bolt.

And don’t forget, the standard LEAF’s 150 mile range is still well beyond most other EVs. Except for Tesla vehicles and the Bolt, typical EV range still hovers around 110 to 120 miles. The Kia Soul EV and BMW i3 both boast around 112 miles, while the VW e-Golf and Hyundai Ioniq EV sit right around 125 miles.

All of these vehicles have more than enough juice to get the average commuter to and from work, but still pale when compared to the upper echelons of EV range. We’ll have to see if Nissan’s LEAF PLUS can take a chunk out of Tesla’s Model 3 sales.

Image Source: Courtesy Nissan Media